The Importance of Checking Your Privilege This Election

Privilege can be a tricky concept as it can often make individuals feel uncomfortable or feel as if they have to defend themselves. The privileges we carry can sometimes be intertwined with our identity such as gender, race, sexuality, etc. Many seem to think that by being asked to address their privilege, they are being shamed or being called “bad.” However, I would argue that the goal behind bringing up conversations about privilege is simply to encourage individuals to think critically. The privileges we have can impact our outlook on the world, and therefore, we must recognize how our privileges affect our views. 

As we approach the presidential election, checking your privilege is more important than ever. For many, elections bring a sense of urgency. The older I’ve gotten the more I realized that this sense of urgency can be greater for those with less privilege because the power of U.S. leadership can greatly affect their survivorship. Right now, more than ever, the wellbeing and safety of many minority communities are at risk. This is why we must be considering how our actions during this election will affect these individuals. It is natural to revert to our own experiences when taking action; however, I encourage you to think beyond yourself this election. 

polling station Photo by Elliott Stallion from Unsplash By the time I was brought into this world, both of my immigrant parents were lucky enough to successfully attain their U.S citizenships, graduate college, and establish careers in the STEM field, all of which allowed me to be raised in a middle to upper class income family. Growing up, I never had to worry about money or coming home one day to find that my parents had been detained. I fully recognize that many individuals did not grow up with this luxury, not to the fault of their parents or themselves. Being aware of the privileges I hold allows me to think beyond just myself, ensuring that my actions and the way I vote positively affects those who do not have the same privileges I possess. 

As you set upon deciding who you are going to vote for, both within your local community and for president, I urge you to think about who your vote is representing. It can be difficult to find a candidate that aligns exactly with your beliefs and morals, but I encourage you to find the one that will give a voice to the underprivileged. Write down your morals, not necessarily political views, but a set of guidelines you want to live by. Some examples could be: treat everyone with respect, make space for all individuals, and make your actions have a positive impact. Think about the presence of both presidential campaigns and about which ticket aligns most with your morals. If your political views are contradicting your morals, perhaps it is time to rethink where you stand and why. And, as you think about your moral and political views, consider how your privileges affect these standpoints. It’s easy to forget about issues that don’t affect us. Therefore, it is important to think critically and stay informed.

Photo of people at work putting their hands on top of each other Photo by fauxels from Pexels The privilege talk isn't about attacking an individual's identity as we can't control the degree of our privilege. Instead, it’s about asking individuals to educate themselves about how their own identities allow for them to be shielded from harm's way, while other community members are forced to fight their way through. As you get ready to vote, please take the time to reflect on how you can use your privileges for good and lift your community members that are unable to attain the same resources and/or protections as you. Sometimes, I feel like I am not doing enough to create a big change, but I’ve learned to trust that every little action is sufficient. Especially when we all take a little time out of our day, the collective effort can cause a big change. This election is the time for you to step and help create change to ensure that going forward all individuals can feel safe and protected within our nation.